THE Under 19 World Cup Qualifying tournament, which gets under way today in Toronto, faces fixture chaos because two of the 10 teams cannot get visas to get them into Canada.
Afghanistan and Sierra Leone were unable to board their scheduled flights and as of yesterday had not arrived for the tournament. The Afghans are due to be Ireland’s second opponents, tomorrow, and if they are unable to fulfil the fixture it will go down as an abandoned match. Only if any team does not fulfil their fixture on Saturday, the fourth scheduled day of matches, will their games be forfeited and the points awarded to their opponents.
Ireland should not be unduly worried if the Afghans do not arrive in time.
Andrew Balbirnie’s side are favourites to win the vast majority of their nine games — it is a round-robin tournament over 13 days — and comfortably qualify for the World Cup finals in New Zealand, alongside the 10 Full Members in January.
Indeed, the talented Irish squad will be aiming to produce the individual performances which will help them into the senior squad in the near future.
Paul Stirling, the one player in the squad who has already made it — he top scored against England at Stormont, the day before he left for Canada - said: “The aim for every single person in our squad has to be to play at the World Cup in 2011 and that is what they are all looking to achieve.
“If they score runs in a major tournament like this then they are definitely putting their name in the shop window to the likes of Phil Simmons. He has given opportunities to young players before, especially in Associate cricket, and encourages players to make the top.”
Ireland’s opening match today is against the United States and, assuming Afghanistan have not arrived, their next match will not be until Friday, against the Netherlands.
Ireland fixtures: Today v USA, Tomorrow v Afghanistan (prov), Friday: v Netherlands, Saturday v PNG; Monday: v Canada, Tuesday Sep 8 v Canada, Sep 10 v Uganda, Sep 11 v Sierra Leone (prov), Sep 13 v Vanuatu.
Ireland squad: A Balbirnie (capt), B Ackland, A D’Arcy, G Dockrell, S Getkate, G McCarter, G McDonnell, L Nelson, S Poynter, E Richardson, J Shannon, P Stirling, S Thompson, C Young.